Australia: Health Related Critical Judgments, Legislation, Press Releases and News Items

Health Alert 20 December 2010
Last Updated: 20 December 2010
Article by Heather Wellington

20 December 2010

Welcome to this week's edition of Health Alert.  The Health Alert is transmitted on Monday of each week (unless there is a public holiday on Monday).

Health Alert is a summary of the critical judgments, legislation, press releases and news items which have come to our attention each week.  Many of the summaries will contain a hyperlink.

If an item is of special interest, we may insert commentary into the body of Health Alert.  However in general, Health Alert is a quick and effective means of ensuring that you are aware of significant recent changes with little or no commentary from us.

If you would like to include a colleague or contact on our distribution list, or be removed from the list and not receive further issues from us, please contact Legal Updates at with the relevant contact details.

The DLA Phillips Fox Health Team


New South Wales. Nurses & Midwives Tribunal

HCCC V MARSDEN [2010] NSWNMT 36 (10 December 2010)

A complaint was made against a nurse that she did not provide appropriate care to a woman in labour.  The woman was admitted to hospital at 39.5 weeks gestation, with a history of persistent hypertension.  Shortly after admission, cardiotocography (CTG) was commenced and the GP obstetrician on call requested that the woman be continuously monitored through her labour.  At some stage during the labour the CTG trace was non-reactive, the CTG was disconnected, and the nurse had difficulty in detecting a fetal heart rate.  The baby died within forty minutes of its birth.  At autopsy, signs of an acute hypoxic/hypotensive event were noted.

The Tribunal found the nurse guilty of professional misconduct.  Although some assessment of the woman was taken it was inadequate and not comprehensive. There were significant deficits in the nurse's record keeping, she failed to inform the GP obstetrician that she had difficulty detecting the foetal heart rate, and disconnected the CTG machine in circumstances where continuous monitoring was required.  The Tribunal had serious doubts about the nurse's clinical judgment, skill and care, and commented on discrepancies between her clinical notes and objective documents and source records. 

The Tribunal cancelled the nurse's registration as a midwife (she can only apply for re-registration after a period of three years), and placed conditions on her registration as a nurse to protect the public safety.

HCCC V FITZGERALD [2010] NSWNMT 35 (3 December 2010)

Tasmania. Magistrates Court

2010 TASCD 423 - Baby J

On 16 April 2009 a three month old baby died following a cardio respiratory arrest.  The cause of death was Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

The baby was born in January 2009 and over the following weeks was noted during 5 medical examinations to have a cough.  The baby was later diagnosed with a recurring viral illness. 

At home on 16 April 2009 he was given a bottle and put to sleep (on his right side).  After approximately 1.5 hours he was checked by his mother, and was found lying on his stomach face down on the pillow, blue in colour and not breathing.  An ambulance was called which arrived within twenty minutes.  Whilst the Ambulance was en route CPR was commenced.  On arrival, the ambulance personnel continued CPR with an oxygen supplement and suction of the airway.  The baby was in cardio respiratory arrest, had no pulse, vomit in his airways, cyanosed lips, fixed and dilated pupils, was in asystole, and was not responding to light.  Resuscitation efforts were stopped after fifteen minutes and the baby was declared deceased.

Coroner, Olivia McTaggart, noted there to be a high SIDS rate in Tasmania and suggested that the safe sleeping message disseminated by SIDS and Kids required further reinforcement.  She remarked that preventable risk factors were often present in these deaths (including co-sleeping with an adult, incorrect infant sleeping position and bedding and parental drug or alcohol sedation).  The Coroner urged the Department of Health and Human Services to consider implementing a strategy to reduce the incidence of SIDS.



Private Health Insurance (Complaints Levy) Amendment Rules 2010 - F2010L03301 - Health - These Rules amend the Private Health Insurance (Complaints Levy) Rules 2007 to increase the complaints levy for the financial year ending 30 June 2011.

Private Health Insurance (Benefit Requirements) Amendment Rules 2010 (No. 8) - F2010L03222 - Health - These Rules amend the Private Health Insurance (Benefit Requirements) Rules 2010 to clarify that registered health insurers and hospitals can contract with each other for the payment of particular benefits.

Health Insurance Amendment (Pathology Requests) Act 2010 - C2010A00138 - Health - An Act to amend the law relating to health, and for related purposes.


Australia. Department of Health & Ageing

Media releases

16 December 2010- Boost to Indigenous Aged Care Services in Northern Territory-The Australian Government is to provide $1.7 million to upgrade and extend the Galiwin'ku Aged Care Service on Elcho Island in the Northern Territory.

15 December 2010- Ministerial Conference on Ageing Communiqué-Australian and New Zealand Ministers responsible for ageing met in Melbourne on 15 December to discuss health and ageing matters affecting older people.

14 December 2010- Royal Hobart Hospital Redevelopment Kicks Off-The first stage of construction for the new integrated Women's and Children's Hospital kicked off on 14 December as part of the Royal Hobart Hospital's redevelopment.

14 December 2010- Tasmanian State-Of-The-Art Ambulance Centre Ready for Business-Faster and more effective coordination of patient transport will result from Ambulance Tasmania's new State Communications Centre and State Headquarters.

13 December 2010- Organ donations highest in Australia's recorded donation history-More Australian families are consenting to their loved ones becoming organ donors.

10 December 2010- Better Practice in Aged Care Award for Aldersgate-Aldersgate Aged Care Facility in Felixstow has received a Better Practice in Aged Care award in recognition of its leading-edge art therapy program.

Private Health Insurance Circular - PHI 88/10 - Hospital Information

OATSIH Programs - Australian Government Strong Fathers Strong Families Program – Questions and Answers Fact Sheet

Developmental Market Research to Inform Indigenous Ear Health Social Marketing Initiatives

Aged care - Schedule of Resident Fees and Charges effective from 1 January 2011.

Australia. Therapeutic Goods Administration

Advertising exemption: Caltrate sponsored by Wyeth Consumer Healthcare Pty Ltd (new)

Supplementary invitation for public comment - ACMS meeting (comments close 21 January 2011)

Australian Public Assessment Report (AusPAR) for prescription medicines

Cladribine tablets


Pandemic influenza vaccine

Tranexamic acid

Risk Management Plan (RMP) Questions and Answers (updated)

Invitation for public comment - ACMS and joint ACMS/ACCS meetings (comments close 19 January 2011)

TGA Transparency Review Panel: Report of first meeting, 7 December 2010 (new)

Portable blood glucose meters (updated)

Worldwide withdrawal of Thelin (sitaxentan) by Pfizer (new)

Recently, the TGA wrote to key stakeholder groups about the importance of adverse event reporting, asking that they pass on an information handout to their members. These handouts are available below.

Information for consumers: How to report a problem with a medicine or medical device to the Therapeutic Goods Administration

Information for health professionals: How to report a problem with a medicine or medical device to the Therapeutic Goods Administration

Information for industry: How to report a problem with a medicine or medical device to the Therapeutic Goods Administration

Advisory Committee on Prescription Medicines (updated ACPM Pharmaceutical subcommittee (PSC) members)

Advisory Committee on Complementary Medicines (added 2011 meeting dates)

Australia. National Health & Medical Research Council

Notice to Research Administration Officers 16 DECEMBER 2010 - As you are aware, we opened the funding rounds for Project Grants, Practitioner, Research Fellowships, and Centres of Research Excellence earlier this week. The policy documents, Advice and Instructions to Applicants and offline templates are available on the NHMRC website and in the RGMS Library. - Read Full Notice

NHMRC Excellence Awards Demonstrate Australia's Strength in Health and Medical Research 16 DECEMBER 2010 - The calibre and depth of health and medical research in Australia was demonstrated last night at the National Health and Medical Research Council's (NHMRC) Excellence Awards in Canberra. Australia's peak body for health and medical research presented the awards to recognise the scientific merit, innovation and the research success of 10 of Australia's leading health and medical researchers. - View Media Release

Opening of funding rounds 13 DECEMBER 2010 - Policy documents and application details and templates for the following grants will be made available throughout today, Monday 13 December 2010: - Project Grants - Research Fellowships - Practitioner Fellowships - Centres of Research Excellence (CRE). For more information please contact our Research Help Centre.

Australian Institute of Health & Welfare

Drinking patterns in Australia, 2001-2007 - This report uses data from the three most recent National Drug Household Surveys to look at trends in alcohol consumption, alcohol-related harm, alcohol beverage of choice, and under-age drinking. Using ... Published 17 December 2010.

Premature mortality from chronic disease - This bulletin uses potential years of life lost to describe mortality patterns for deaths due to chronic disease. It shows that most premature deaths were due to chronic disease. The ... Published 17 December 2010.

Cancer in Australia 2010: an overview - Cancer in Australia: an overview, 2010 provides a comprehensive overview of national statistics on cancer in Australia. The report presents the latest available statistics on cancer overall, as well as ... Published 16 December 2010.

Cancer in Australia 2010: in brief - .... Published 16 December 2010.

Adoptions Australia 2009-10 - This report contains comprehensive information relating to adoptions in Australia, including characteristics of adopted children, adoptive families and birth mothers. During 2009-10 there were 412 finalised adoptions across Australia-the lowest ... Published 15 December 2010.

Health expenditure Australia 2008-09 - Health expenditure in Australia in 2008-09 reached $112.8 billion, an increase of $9.2 billion since 2007-08. The area of health expenditure with the largest increase was public hospital services, which ... Published 14 December 2010.

Diabetes in pregnancy: its impact on Australian women and their babies - Diabetes is known to adversely affect women and their babies during pregnancy, labour and delivery. These adverse effects differ by type of diabetes and between population groups. This report is ... Published 13 December 2010.

Australian Commission on Safety & Quality in Health Care

12 December 2010 - Launch of Online Infection Control Education Modules

09 December 2010 - Call for expressions of interest for observation chart usability testing and piloting

Australian Competition & Consumer Commission

ACCC not to oppose pharmaceutical acquisition - The ACCC will not oppose the proposed acquisition of Sigma Pharmaceuticals Limited's Pharmaceutic... Issued: 16th December 2010 Release # NR 276/10

Australian Capital Territory. Department of Health

Media releases

Generous donation to support Maternity Ward and Walk-in Centre at TCH Katy Gallagher, MLA December 16 2010

Report shows good results for the ACT Katy Gallagher, MLA December 16 2010

Join Santa for a Christmas snap and donate to PatCH Katy Gallagher, MLA December 15 2010

ACT Government and unions working together Katy Gallagher, MLA December 15 2010

Improved parking at Canberra Hospital well received by staff and residents Katy Gallagher, MLA December 14 2010

New health expenditure report shows need for national health reform Katy Gallagher, MLA December 13 2010

$1.6 million reward payments for meeting Elective Surgery Targets Katy Gallagher, MLA December 13 2010

Minister welcomes launch of the new national MyHospitals website Katy Gallagher, MLA December 10 2010

Policy - Act Health Policy Management Framework - The Framework outlines a single policy management framework for the management of frameworks, policies and standard operating procedures (SOP's) and guidelines (collectively referred to within this document as policy documents). It sets out how policy documents will be initiated, developed, implemented and reviewed. ACT Health-Wide - Patient Safety and Quality UnitCED10-039 Policy - Act Health Policy Management Framework (PDF File 225k)

Alcohol And/Or Other Drugs (aod) - Act Health Responding To Use Of Non-Prescription Alcohol And/Or Other Drugs (aod) - The use or supply of Alcohol and/or Other Drugs (AOD), which have not been prescribed as clinical treatment, is not permitted by consumers, visitors or staff within ACT Health facilities. ACT Health takes a harm minimisation approach to AOD use and fully supports consumers who have a history of AOD dependence, through the course of their hospital admission, by establishing an individualised clinical treatment plan appropriate to their specific needs. ACT Health-Wide - Clinical OperationsCED10-041 Act Health Responding To Use Of Non-Prescription Alcohol And/Or Other Drugs (aod) Policy (PDF File 174k)

Alcohol And/Or Other Drugs (aod) - Act Health Responding To Use Of Non-Prescription Alcohol And/Or Other Drugs (aod) Standard Operating Procedure - The use or supply of Alcohol and/or Other Drugs (AOD), which have not been prescribed as clinical treatment, is not permitted by consumers, visitors or staff within ACT Health facilities. ACT Health takes a harm minimisation approach to AOD use and fully supports consumers who have a history of AOD dependence, through the course of their hospital admission, by establishing an individualised clinical treatment plan appropriate to their specific needs. ACT Health-Wide - Clinical OperationsCED10-042 v> Responding To Use Of Non-Prescription Alcohol And/Or Other Drugs (aod) – Standard Operating Procedure (PDF File 175k)

New South Wales. Department of Health

Media releases

Emergency Departments benefit from new Ultrasound [10 December 2010]

Care after the removal of the spleen (splenectomy) or if your spleen doesn't work properly (functional hyposlenism) and attached Patient Advice Card 15/12/2010

Policy directive

Engagement of Therapists on a Sessional Basis PD2010_071 13/12/2010

Information bulletin

Fees for Cremation Certificates Issued by Salaried Medical Practitioners of Public Hospitals IB2010_060 13/12/2010

New South Wales. Bureau of Health Information

Healthcare in Focus: how NSW compares internationally - Healthcare in Focus provides a comprehensive look at how the NSW health system compares to the rest of Australia and 10 other countries, using some 90 performance measures. The report provides comprehensive information including care experiences, effectiveness, efficiency, equity, value, safety and responsiveness. - Read More

Northern Territory. Department of Health & Families

Kon Vatskalis - Two Local Hospital Networks Chosen For Northern Territory - Health Minister Kon Vatskalis announced today the NT Government is supporting the formation of two separate Local Hospital Networks in the Northern Territory.

Kon Vatskalis - Territory Cancer Care Gets a $2.5M Boost - Cancer treatment in the Northern Territory has reached another milestone with the commissioning of a second linear accelerator at the Alan Walker Cancer Care Centre (AWCCC) on the Royal Darwin Hospital campus.

Queensland. Department of Health

Media releases





Masterplan Summary - Ipswich Hospital Expansion Project

The Health of Queenslanders 2010: Third Report of the Chief Health Officer Queensland

Whooping cough (pertussis) outbreak communiques

maternity staff (PDF, 46 KB)

child health workers (PDF, 46 KB)

child care workers (PDF, 50 KB)

Tasmania. Department of Health & Human Services

Media releases

More Details about Local Hospital Networks Minister for Health 15 December 2010

RHH Redevelopment Funding Minister for Health 14 December 2010

Tasmanian State-of-the-Art Ambulance Centre Ready for Business Minister for Health 14 December 2010

Royal Hobart Hospital Redevelopment Kicks Off Minister for Health 14 December 2010

Local Hospital Networks Minister for Health 13 December 2010

Tasmania's First Suicide Prevention Strategy Unveiled Minister for Health 10 December 2010

MyHospitals Website Minister for Health 10 December 2010

Clinical Assessment of Ashley Youth Detention Centre's current Policy and Protocols for Health Issues  - 15 Dec 2010

Victoria. Department of Health

Interim infection control advice on Clostridium difficile infection for hospitals December 2010

Western Australia. Department of Health

Media releases

16 December 2010 - Travel precautions against infectious diseases for the holiday season

10 December 2010 - All clear for Flinders Bay, Augusta

13 December 2010 - WA Health Performance Report – July to September 2010 Quarter

New Zealand. Ministry of Health

16 December 2010: Our Oral Health: Key findings of the 2009 New Zealand Oral Health Survey - This report presents key findings from the 2009 New Zealand Oral Health Survey, and focuses on oral health status, protective factors and service utilisation among the New Zealand population.

United Kingdom. Department of Health

A new value-based approach to the pricing of branded medicines - a consultation

Monitoring use of money to implement End of Life Care Strategy and expenditure on specialist palliative care

GP patient survey October 2009 - September 2010, and dentistry survey, July to September 2010, England

Tackling health inequalities in infant and maternal health outcomes: report of the Infant Mortality National Support Team

Transition and public health - letter

Flu vaccination for pregnant women - letter

Trading Medicines for Human Use Shortages and Supply Chain Obligations

Liberating the NHS: Legislative framework and next steps

NHS operating framework 2011-12

Primary care trust allocations for 2011/12, and background information on the allocation formula

Treatment guidelines for patients with influenza 2010/2011

Response to the consultation on: The Health and Social Care Act 2008 Code of Practice for healthcare, including primary care, and adult social care on the prevention and control of infections and related guidance

The Health and Social Care Act 2008: Code of Practice on the prevention and control of infections and related guidance

Response to the independent review of the requirement to have insurance or indemnity as a condition of registration as a healthcare professional

A summary of the consultation on changes to the allocation formulae for the learning disabilities commissioning transfer grant preserved rights grant and AIDS support grant

Influenza Season 2010/11 - Use of Anti-virals

National Cancer Patient Experience Survey Programme - 2010: National survey report

Recognised, valued and supported: next steps for the Carers Strategy: Response to the call for views

Launch of Winterwatch

Canada. Health Canada

Government of Canada, Assembly of First Nations continue joint Task Group on First Nations Health [2010-12-15]

Australian Medical Association

Australian medical schools need national Fitness-to-Practise policies to manage unprofessional student behaviour 12 December 2010 - 12:00pm - MJA media release: Australian medical schools do not have consistent fitness-to-practise policies (FTPPs) for addressing unprofessional conduct by medical students, according to a study in the Medical Journal of Australia. Assoc. Prof. Paul McGurgan at the University of Western Australia, and co-authors described current use and possible effects of Australian medical school FTPPs, and aimed to define and benchmark FTPP best practice. The survey included 15 of the 19 medical schools in Australia. Of these, 12 schools reported using an FTPP. The most common reason for exclusion of medical students was persistent inappropriate attitude or behaviour, including poor attendance, and most exclusions occurred by the third year of study.

Poor quality reporting of cancer in mainstream media 12 December 2010 - 12:00pm - MJA media release: Cancer reporting in the media is generally of low quality. However, many of the poorer aspects of the content are directly attributable to the researchers, according to a study published in the Medical Journal of Australia. Amanda Wilson, Postdoctoral Research Fellow from the School of Medicine and Public Health at the University of Newcastle, and co-authors reviewed the content, context and quality of cancer reporting in Australian media from June 2004 to June 2009. A total of 1,323 stories about new treatments and procedures were identified. Of these, 272 were cancer related. Cancer was the primary focus of around 20 per cent of all stories about new drugs and 40 per cent for all stories about diagnostic tests. Most cancer stories identified the source of their information, with the predominant source being the researcher or doctor who had tested or administered the intervention.

Young gay men at increased risk of HIV infection 12 December 2010 - 12:00pm - MJA media release: Compared with older men who have sex with men (MSM), those aged under 35 years are more likely to have never previously been tested for HIV, more likely to report not knowing the HIV status of regular partners, and more likely to report inconsistent condom use with casual and regular partners, according to a study published in the Medical Journal of Australia. Ms Carol El-Hayek, Epidemiologist at the Centre for Population Health at the Burnet Institute, Melbourne, and co-authors reviewed the age of HIV diagnoses in MSM in Victoria to determine whether younger MSM are at increasing risk of HIV infection. Between 2000 and 2009, 1,635 MSM were diagnosed with HIV in Victoria. The median age at HIV diagnosis in MSM declined significantly, from 38.8 years in 2007 to 35.3 years in 2008 and 35.9 years in 2009. In 2009, the number of HIV diagnoses among MSM aged 25-29 years was 62 per cent higher than in 2007. The median age of MSM testing for HIV remained constant at 33 years between 2006 and 2009.

Medical students need more hands-on work in gross human anatomy courses 12 December 2010 - 12:00pm - MJA media release: Dissection anatomy should be an integral component of medical education, according to a study published in the Medical Journal of Australia. Prof George Ramsey-Stewart, Professor of Surgical Anatomy at the University of Sydney, and co-authors evaluated the 2010 "Anatomy by whole body dissection" elective course offered to senior medical students at the University of Sydney.

MyHospitals Website - right idea, wrong information 10 December 2010 - 3:00pm - AMA President, Dr Andrew Pesce, said today that the MyHospitals website is a good idea but it would be a much better resource if it supplied more up-to-date and more specific hospital service information to patients. The website was launched today with emergency department and elective surgery waiting times data from 2009-10, data on outpatient services provided in 2008-09, and bed number information for each hospital in broad categories of less than 50, 50 to 100, and so on.

AMA plan to get the 'e-health revolution started 10 December 2010 - 3:00pm - AMA President, Dr Andrew Pesce, said today that the Government should concentrate its efforts on delivering the most easily achievable aspects of an electronic medical record in order to get Australia's much-anticipated 'e-health revolution' started. Dr Pesce said that the AMA has long been a supporter of the Government's e-health agenda but it is time that people started seeing some results.

GP Network News, Issue 10, Number 44 - 10 December 2010 10 December 2010 - 4:00pm  - After Hours Technical Working Group, Diabetes Advisory Group meets, BEACH 2009-10, AMA Plan to get the 'e-health revolution' started, Pathology services must be protected, New AMA Web Poll, Medicare Provider Enquiry Line, Compliance Update

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